Swag Snap of the Week: Stevie Wonder

Singing a soulful “Happy Birthday” the one and only Stevie Wonder in the key that he composed for the Dr. King Day version. The music icon celebrated the big 7-0 on Wednesday, May 13. He’s seen here bringing the house down when he played Enterprise Center (back when it was Scottrade Center) in October of 2015.

Nelly has next. Before I get into the epic vibe that was the Jill Scott vs. Badu experience, let me go ahead and talk about one of our own being next on deck for the Verzuz Battle brand by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland. By now, I’m sure y’all already know that Nelly is getting ready to go head-to-head with Ludacris on Saturday night. And how do I know y’all know? Because y’all were all up and through the ‘Book battling each other about who is the best. Which was as silly as can be. I had an epiphany as I watched people who know good and doggone well that Nelly is gonna mop the flo’ (yes, I said flo’) with Luda and other people who actually bothered entertaining this most ridiculous argument. What I came to realize is that for the most part, we are not haters. But we do give too much energy focusing on hate. And this is a prime example. Everybody and their baby mama knows that Luda should prepare to be destroyed. But there were a small group that had their own reasons – unrelated to the reality of Nelly’s catalog of hits – who decided to hate on the home team. Instead laughing them off, some of y’all really engaged with these folks like Nelly couldn’t just put “Tip Drill” and “Hot In Herre” on repeat and whoop Luda. And while it’s great that he is the homie, I would say the same thing if Nelly was from Iceland. And I’m a fan of Luda. Now if we wanted to make it a bit fairer, we could do Luda’s features against Nelly’s hits – because Luda has a knack for adding serious drip to a remix. Luda would still take that L though. Out of full transparency, I am So St. Louis, that if Luda was battling that one dude who used to hand out mixtapes for change at the gas station by the Schnucks on Lindell, I would ride with old boy. But I am truly just going hit for hit in my analysis between Mo and Luda – and Luda simply can’t hang. Listen for yourself on Saturday at 6 p.m. on IG as Luda catches all that certified diamond selling smoke.

The brilliance of Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. Even though it was courtesy of Verzuz, when Erykah Badu and Jilly from Philly came together on the IG Live last Saturday, the best way to describe it is a transcendental soul journey that perfectly explains why we have been rocking with them both for more than 20 years. It was inspirational. It was motivational. It was aspirational. And that’s without the music. They dropped knowledge from the moment they started – which of course Badu hopped on when she felt like it. She would later say at some point during the THREE HOURS 770,000-plus folks were perched and would not be moved that she has “no concept of time.” I was like, “Girl, you ain’t never lied.” But back to the battle. They started off playing their respective versions of “You Got Me” by The Roots. Badu was already a soul sensation when she sang the words that Jill Scott wrote for what was one of only a handful of radio hits for The Roots. Scott felt like she had made it just because Badu was singing her words. Then Badu said she got stuck in traffic – which means she was probably operating in non-conceptual time mode – and Black Thought said Scott would have to step on stage and sing the hook. She talked about how terrified she was, but it was the moment that launched her career. Being being ready when your moment arrives is a sermon, y’all. Then throughout their back and forth they just kept inspiring and encouraging. And gave Queen Latifah credit for using her momentum as Hollywood’s “it” black girl to push for the Sugar Water Festival. They teased about bringing it back. They better stop playing with me, because that is still one of my favorite concerts of all time – that’s saying a lot when you consider that before The Rona I was going to about five shows a week since Jesus was a baby. But back to the Verzuz. Listen, I could go on and on about how much life I got from it, but space won’t allow. Just know that they summed it up best before they signed off when they said, “the culture won.” No lies detected.

Tasha B’s backyard band. Thanks to Linda Robinson, I got my life from local singer Tasha B as she did a socially distant outdoor set with my boy Jesse Prather on keys and her son on drums Thursday evening. At least I think it was Thursday. All these days are bleeding together. But anyway, I was thrilled by her set list. I got Marvin Gaye, Mary J. and a whole bunch of others songs that I was Saturday housecleaning grooving to on whatever day it was. I really loved the Roy Ayers, Mary J. mashup girl. As much as I enjoyed the performance, I have to offer a note to your FB Live film crew. Y’all, when you have conversations as you are filming, they end up being louder than the music because the mic is right by your mouth. Keep that in mind as you move forward. A little chatter is unnoticeable in a crowded venue. At a social distant event with two or three folks as you handle the camera phone … not so much.

See you later, Ready Room. My heart tore into little bitty pieces when I learned that one of my favorite live music spots became the latest casualty of coronavirus. I had some great times at the Ready Room over these past few years – and while I love that the last event I attended was a pure vibe, I hate to see that team have to go back to the drawing board. I’m praying that they bounce back better than ever, but it’s going to be strange not having them in rotation when I hit the Grove again.

Eddie Murphy’s Magnificent Murray Murray. I managed to miss the Feeding America Comedy Festival. I was so excited and so hype that when I decided to take a power nap ahead of the lengthy broadcast, I powered down and woke up just in time for a Monday morning meeting. I couldn’t find footage from Eddie Murphy’s performance anywhere until a clip of him playing a fictional soul legend named Murray Murray popped up and gave me more life than a whole urban comedy revue – and it was only 75 seconds long. I don’t want to give it away, but if you need a quick cackle, do yourself a favor and Google “Eddie Murphy Murray Murray.” You won’t be sorry. I was shocked to see how much he looked like his brother Charlie in the clip. You’re welcome.  

Chan’s Andre Harrell homage. It was a heavy week for R&B, soul and rock and roll as we suffered through the losses of Andre Harrell, Little Richard and Betty Wright. It was almost too much to bear. I don’t know what I would have done if my boy Charlie Chan Soprano and Shadzilla hadn’t lifted my spirits by reminding my why Harrell has a special place in my heart. That IG Live spin session highlighting Harrell’s contributions was absolutely everything the other night.

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